S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science




Curson, Prof Herbert Henry (veterinary science, veterinary history)

Born: 22 September 1892, uMzimkhulu, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Died: 15 January 1968, Umhlanga Rocks, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Herbert Henry Curson, eldest son of Henry Charles Curson and his wife Constance Emilie, born Blair, concluded his schooling at Michaelhouse in Balgowan, KwaZulu-Natal. He graduated MRCVS at the Royal Veterinary College, London, in 1914 and the next year was appointed government veterinarian in Cape Town. From January 1915 to March 1917 he served as a field veterinary surgeon in the Western Cape. This was followed by a period as a member of the Inter-Colonial Veterinary Commission on Rinderpest, until October 1918. Thereafter he was a veterinary research officer at Onderstepoort in charge of vaccine production until February 1920. He was then first transferred to the Veterinary Research Laboratory in Grahamstown, then to Empangeni, Zululand, in charge of the trypanosomiasis research station and in March 1923 back to Onderstepoort. There he first lectured in Animal Management and from April 1926 occupied the chair of anatomy until 1936. A part of his research during this time, carried out in collaboration with A.P. Malan and others, was published as a series of 17 papers under the cover title "Studies in sex physiology" in the Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Science. Other papers by him during this period, published in the South African Journal of Science, dealt with topics such as "Preservation of game in South Africa" (1924), "On the causal organisms of Nagana" (1924), "meteorological conditions and the seasonal prevalence of Nagana in Zululand" (1927), and "Experimental Trypanosoma vivax disease in sheep and goats in South Africa" (1928).

In 1926 Curson took his Dr.Med.Vet. degree at the TierAerztliche Hochschule in Hannover, Germany, with a thesis on Die Behandlung von "Nagana" mit Brechweinstein in Zululand in den Jahren 1921-1923. Also in 1926 he took his FRCVS with a thesis on Some little known South African poisonous plants and their effects on stock. He collected plants in Ngamiland (Botswana) in 1930-1931 and also in the Transvaal, the specimens eventually going to the herbarium of the National Botanical Research Institute in Pretoria. From 1936 until his retirement in 1952 he was Deputy Director of Native Agriculture. During World War II (1939-1945) he served with the rank of captain, amongst others commanding the Cape Corps, and after his retirement worked in the military archives for ten years. His interest in the veterinary military history of South Africa resulted in a large number of articles on this subject among his 175 scientific papers. He was married to Maria Magdalena, born Hugo, with whom he had three sons.


List of sources:
Author and Subject Index to the Government Veterinary Reports of the Transvaal and Union of South Africa (1903-1932). Pretoria: Department of Agriculture, June 1937.

Author and Subject Index to the Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Science and Animal Industry (1933-1950) and the Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research (1951-1968). Pretoria: Department of Agriculture, June 1969.

Curson, H.H. On the causal organisms of nagana. South African Journal of Science, 1924, Vol. 21, pp. 432-435.

Curson, H.H. The veterinary profession in South Africa. Journal of the South African Veterinary Medical Association, 1930-1934, Vol. 1(4), pp. 3-17; Vol. 2, pp. 1-22, 95-103; Vol. 3, pp. 133-137; Vol. 4, pp. 36-45, 107-110, 178-181, 186-188; Vol. 5, pp. 49-62, 133-137, 157-175.

Gunn, M. & Codd, L.E. Botanical exploration of southern Africa. Cape Town: Balkema, 1981.

National Archives, Pretoria. Source MHG. Reference No. 2038/68, death notice.

National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System (NAAIRS). http://www.national.archives.gov.za/naairs.htm Documents relating to Herbert Henry Curson / H.H. Curson.

Posthumus, P.J. Past Veterinarians in South Africa, Vol. 1, 10th edition, [1992].

South African History Online: Herbert Henry Curson. http://www.sahistory.org.za/people/herbert-henry-curson

South African Journal of Science, 1924-1928, Vol. 21-25: Papers by Curson.


Compiled by: D.W. Verwoerd


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